Manual False Friends in Business English

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The Challenge of French False Cognates

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When you find pairs of false friends between Portuguese and English, take the time to understand them in the context of EACH language! Never assume that two words that sound similar in English and Portuguese have the same meaning. While they may share the same origin, their meanings may have changed a lot over time!

Business English: False friends

Take a good dictionary, look up the new English words and write down their correct meaning and translation in Portuguese. Take the list above and remove any false friends that you already know well. Now create your own personal list of false cognates with the English word on the left, the Portuguese mistake in the middle column and the correct translation and meaning on the right.

You can find more false friends by reading and translating texts in English.

False Friends: 8 Common Business English Mistakes

Build your list over time as your study. Context is extremely important when you are learning vocabulary! Never learn a word without an example of how it is used. Context always helps us to understand what words mean.

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For this reason, you should never learn words in isolation — e. Take two words that sound very similar in English and Portuguese, find one sample sentence for each and you will quickly see the difference in usage between them! Starting with the list above, you can highlight some false cognates that have caused problems for you in the past.


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Look at the example of correct English usage and try to write x3 new sentences of your own. If you are unsure of how to use the English word, search for it on Google and look for more examples of it in context. You can then copy these examples or write more yourself. This may sound like a strange tip, but it actually works. Have you ever watched an English film with subtitles in Portuguese?

False Friends in English

Try to follow them and pick out the mistakes! There will be more than you think. Words often have several meanings in English and this creates additional problems when translating. You can also try this exercise with translated texts. Your email address will not be published.

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